The St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, located at the heart of Bulgaria’s capital city of Sofia, comprises a little bit of everywhere. The marble came from Munich, the metal was sourced Berlin and manufactured in Vienna, and the mosaics journeyed all the way from Venice.
Designed in the Neo-Byzantine style, the church can hold 10,000 people and is one of the largest Eastern Orthodox cathedrals in the world.
Looking up at the cathedral, you’ll spot countless arches, wintergreen and gilded domes, ornate doors, stone carvings, murals, and mosaics. The majestic structure towers 148 feet at its highest point, and the temple’s bell tower holds 12 bells that weigh a total of 23 tons. The bells can be heard within a nearly 10-mile radius. Inside, you can marvel at the royal thrones and grandiose pulpit, as well as the mosaic mural of Tsar Ferdinand and Queen Eleanor, all within a dazzling and cavernous interior.
The cathedral’s construction began in 1882, but was not completed until 1912, and sanctified until 1924. Named for Russian prince Saint Alexander Nevsky (1221– 1263), the church was built to honor those who sacrificed their lives during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878, which liberated Bulgaria from the Ottoman Empire.
There is also a museum in the basement, within the cathedral crypt, that contains a major collection of Orthodox icons and masterpieces.
Know Before You Go
The nearest subway station is Sofia University.